Wine Finds: Malbec Grapes Make Complex, Earthy Wines

Article excerpt

When a friend suggested having dinner at Fritanga, the Nicaraguan restaurant at 2208 South Jefferson Avenue, it made me think of how much I wanted wine made from the malbec grape. I have to admit that I don't know if malbec is grown in Nicaragua, but the churrasco served at Fritanga reminds me of the famous Argentine grilled beef dish of the same name. And malbec is the signature grape of Argentina.

Malbec grapes grown in Argentina can produce delicious medium- to full-bodied reds with complex flavors of black and red fruit, black- pepper spice, smooth, ripe tannins and a bit of earthiness. These characteristics make malbec wines great matches for red meats such as roast beef, steak and prime rib.

Since Fritanga is so close to Randall's, 1910 South Jefferson, I just had to stop by on my way to dinner to see what I could find.

I was in luck because an under-$15 malbec was housed in the store's display of wines that received 90 points and above from critics. The wine is the Tolentino 2011 Winemaker's Selection Malbec from Mendoza priced at $13.99. Mendoza, 600 miles west of Buenos Aires, is Latin America's largest winemaking region.

I decided to compare it with the 2010 San Huberto Malbec Reserva priced at $12.99. While the label doesn't specify where the grapes were grown, the winery's website says Arminga Valley in La Rioja. This is a province in northwestern Argentina, north of Mendoza, and should not be confused with Spain's famous Rioja region.

An interesting fact about San Huberto is that in addition to Argentina, it has operations in China's Huailai County, in northwestern Hebei province. …

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